ECU City Campus

ECU City Campus

“This is going to change the way the university delivers education. It will be far more integrated than a traditional campus, and more connected into the lifeblood of the city. It will be a university on show; an ambassador for how learning is seen and understood in the community.”

Neil Appleton, Director, Lyons

ECU City is designed to be a hub for innovative thinkers, adaptive learners and the leaders of tomorrow. The multi-level campus is unique among Australian university campuses and redefines the transformative potential for higher education. ECU City is the centrepiece of the Perth City Deal – a collaboration between the Australian Government, Western Australian Government, City of Perth and ECU. Set to be completed in late 2025, the campus is expected to reshape the heart of Perth and bring new energy to the city’s business, cultural and entertainment precincts. As one of the largest, most complex university buildings undertaken in Australia, we are proud to be leading the design of this world-class project.

  • Sector


  • Key Lyons Contact

    Neil Appleton, Carey Lyon

  • Client

    Edith Cowan University, Australian Government, Western Australian Government, City of Perth

  • Collaborator(s)

    Designed by Lyons in collaboration with UK based Haworth Tompkins and Perth based Silver Thomas Hanley

  • Address

    Opening to William Street Mall at Yagan Square

  • Traditional land

    Located on the traditional lands of the Whadjuk Noongar People

  • Size


  • Project status

    Set to be completed in late 2025

Connecting into the lifeblood of the city

Located between Perth’s business, entertainment and cultural precincts, ECU City is a magnetic campus designed to transform Perth’s CBD and redefine higher education in Western Australia. Opening to William Street Mall at Yagan Square, the university showcases a vibrant digital media facade that wraps around ECU City, quite literally displaying the inside out. An immersive entrance envelopes Perth Busport, breaking boundaries and connecting to the public realm. Sitting at the heart of Perth’s public transport hub, ECU City has unparalleled integration and proximity to the city and beyond. Activated street spaces and lively shared laneways connect Roe, Queen and Wellington Street. 

The design puts education on show, presenting ECU as a cultural and economic asset that is a part of the city’s identity. Vast windows and galleries with transparent qualities are designed to spill life, culture and performance out onto ECU City’s surroundings. Cleverly stacked, state-of-the-art performance spaces will make 300 annual WA Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA) performances possible, empowering this new cultural heart of Perth. The design also establishes Perth as a global leader in the fusion of culture, creativity, business and technology. Talking about ECU’s potential to ignite a creative hub in Perth, Lyons Director Neil Appleton says “ECU City opens up great synergies for all the creative industries around Yagan Square, such as the theatres, cultural precinct and businesses, to come together at ECU to create an industry-led resurgence in the city.

An immersive, vibrant student hub 

ECU City places the student experience at the centre of its design. Its state-of-the-art learning facilities and vibrant cultural hub will attract an estimated 10,000 students and staff to Perth’s CBD in 2026. The vertical campus features 11 super levels of world-class teaching facilities enabling some of the most digitally informed and enhanced learning of its type internationally. Deliberately bringing together the creative industries with business and technology groups, the design breaks the disciplines from their silos and provides opportunities for the cross pollination of ideas. Business and law students are more physically connected with industry and creative industries students are stimulated by the immersive and creative cultural hub. 

The state of the art student facilities include radio and television broadcast studios, smart labs, dynamic function and engagement and collaboration spaces. The WAAPA performance spaces are one of the highest density and range of vertically stacked performance spaces in the world with a three-storey fly tower incorporated in the playhouse theatre.

“The architects are constantly challenging themselves. I get the impression that they’re never quite stopping or resting on their laurels. There’s always somebody coming in with a view that is upping the ante, which I think has been really good.”

Sean Henriques, Program Director at Edith Cowan University

the city

Enriching cultural


the Campus

Breaking boundaries 

The idea of ‘breaking boundaries’ is a theme that runs through the ECU City project, evolving to take on multiple meanings and inform both the design process and the building. Working closely with Edith Cowan University, the client wanted to push both us and themselves to evolve the boundaries of city planning, higher education architecture, and student-centred learning. The idea of breaking boundaries is also embedded in the campus’s name, which is named after Australian social reformer Edith Cowan. Cowan was the first woman to be elected to an Australian parliament (and was elected in 1921). As the only university in Australia named after a woman, ECU City continues the legacy of breaking boundaries. Our strategy to create an industry-led resurgence through ECU City’s integrated campus is another example of how the project aims to break boundaries. By bringing the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA), Western Australian Screen Academy and Media Broadcast, as well as business and law degrees into one campus, an unprecedented breadth of creativity is fostered in one location.

Embedding cultural narratives

ECU City is designed to highlight and resurface the rich history of the Traditional Owners of the land, the Whadjuk Nyoongar people. The design is inspired and informed by knowledge and insight shared through the Whadjuk Noongar Elders cultural advisory group and Kurongkurl Katitjin, ECU’s Centre for Indigenous Australian Education and Research. Input from the Whadjuk Noongar Elders cultural advisers is instrumental to a design that recognises history while connecting the past to the present. ECU City is located on an ancient site of learning and gathering which was once made up of wetlands and swamps. The contemporary role of ECU City mirrors the historical role the land once played in the education of young Aboriginal people. ECU City is also the new home for Kurongkurl Katitjin, ECU’s Centre for Indigenous Australian Education and Research. ECU City’s design expands on the Indigenous creativity celebrated in Yagan Square, featuring a landscape inspired passage through the heart of the campus, called Karak Walk. Referencing Whadjuk artist Dr Richard Walley’s work titled ‘Life Layers’, which represents the transition of the Perth escarpment, from the ground to the sky, the Karak Walk façades are designed with coloured ‘strata’, and further activated with pop out windows which provide views into and out of the Campus to the public space of Karak Walk.The coloured strata of the façade also inform the internal wayfinding colours to greater heighten the student experience.

Key Contacts

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